Co-Chomunn na Pairc (Pairc Community Co-operative), who run the Ravenspoint Centre at Kershader on behalf of the community of South Lochs, have landed their second major Big Lottery Fund grant in two years.
This will enable the Centre to install a fuel pump selling unleaded petrol and diesel for the first time, and help local residents avoid a return journey of over 40 miles to fill up their vehicles.
Big Lottery Fund have awarded the Co-Chomunn £235,000 over three years to install and run the new facility, which will involve a pioneering 19,000 litres above ground storage tank.
Assuming some remaining match funding can be raised, which the Co-Chomunn are confident of doing in the next few weeks, the pump could be operational by this summer.
John Randall, chairman of the Co-Chomunn, said: “This project is the Number One top priority for the area and has the overwhelming support of local residents.
“It will save many wasted journeys and indeed has the potential to transform the way people view the idea of living in or visiting South Lochs.
“We are delighted that the Big Lottery Fund has given this further vote of confidence in the future of our community.
He added: “There are many details still to be worked out, but we have crossed the major hurdle, and look forward to the project becoming a reality later this year.
“I should like to thank everyone who has supported us in putting the case forward for this much needed service. We will do our very best to offer fuel at competitive prices.”
The news has been welcomed by Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan. He commented: “I am pleased that the Big Lottery Fund have recognised the enormous effort which Co-Chomunn na Pairc have made to develop a range of services for the community.
“In an area where many people presently have to drive over 20 miles to buy fuel this is great news, and rewards real initiative on the part of the community.”
The Ravenspoint Centre received a major grant from Big Lottery Fund in early 2011 for a stunning new loch-side cafe, expanded community shop, and extra space for visitor attractions showcasing the environment, history, and Gaelic culture of South Lochs.
The Centre also houses a 14-bed hostel, exhibitions on Calum Kennedy and other local musicians, Patagonia, Whaling, the Comunn Eachdraidh na Pairc local history museum, the Angus Macleod Archive, and Derek Cooper Collection.
Gaelic courses are run several weeks a year which take students from all over the world into the heart of a Gaelic-speaking community.
The Centre is also the headquarters of the Islands Book Trust and the new Hebridean Connections heritage project, and located immediately next door to the offices of the Pairc Trust and the Muaitheabhal Trust.